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I hear…the Seventies…
Which is maybe the best decade for rock music? The Stones were Jaggering around. Led Zep was offering some holy music. Lynyrd Skynyrd was raising stock in Bic lighters with Free Bird (imho, Simple Man is a much better song). Personal favorite the Moody Blues was expanding minds…Other memorable (or hard to forget) bands from that era includee Rush (partially revived a decade ago, by I Love You, Man); Glendale’s own Mr. Nice Guy by the name of Alice Cooper; Yes; and, yes, Aerosmith, which formed just as the decade was born.
Unfortunately, I’ll never empty my brain of Steve Tyler and crew….
If you’ve never been there, it’s pretty much a dive bar-meets-acid trip; or, Pee-wee’s Big Adventure with a bar and live music.
Perhaps the weirdest and most interestingly chaotic watering holes ever: Impractical Jokers on big screen, pool table in front section, a photo booth, random mannequins…A creepy-cool back room features all kinda pinball machine–and even an old-school hockey game.
If the college-age patrons didn’t have cell phones, I would have sworn I had wormholed back to 1975…
A San Diego band called Doah’s Daydream is even doing a rousing, if ironic, take on Dream On.
While they were just rocking out in a goofy, guitar-in-cheek way, the band that followed cranked up a very sincere Seventies arena rock show--even if they were playing on a tiny stage in a basement-sized room.
Welcome to Ultraviolet Communications.
I had to leave after about five songs–not because I didn’t like it, indeed, this is one of the tightest, most-together young bands I’ve seen in a long time. But I forgot earplugs, and UVC almost literally blew me out of the room.
The next day, I caught up with Matt Morgan (bass/lead singer), Lee Pickett (drums) and Josiah Rodriguez (guitar and vocals) for a Zoom.
Highlights of the interview:
*They independently came to the Valley from Ohio, Texas and Yuma, meeting through a Craigslist let’s start a band ad circa 2018.
*They spent a year practicing and perfecting what they wanted to sound like before making their debut Jan. 29, 2019, at the Rogue Bar (RIP) in Scottsdale.
*James Brown might call them "the hardest-working band in Phoenix," as they have since played around a hundred shows in a little more than three years–staggering, considering pandemic lockdowns.
*Rodgriguez plays a double-neck guitar custom-made by a friend.
*They share a home in Mesa...so they literally can never get away from each other.
The three were born in the late Nineties (Pickett is 23, the other two are 24), but have a special spot in their hearts for the Seventies.
Though they label themselves “alternative rock” on social media…they readily agreed with me, when I said that didn’t really fit them. And they’re not punk, pop, metal, New Wave–so what are they?
I tried to lure them out, asking them which Seventies bands they identify with.
They were hesitant, sensing a trap.
“We listen to a lot of music,” Pickett said.
They murmured amongst each other, and Cream, Thin Lizzy, Rush (insert I Love You Man joke here), Jethro Tull came up. And, of course, the gods of the 70s.
“My knee jerk is Zeppelin,” Morgan said.
Rodgriguez and Pickett noted they listen to Eighties and Nineties bands, especially the Smashing Pumpkins.
They gave each other a knowing look.
“We don’t like to compare ourselves to other bands,” the double-neck player said.
“Who are we,” the drum smasher added, humbly, “to compare ourselves to another band?”
I took a final stab: When they meet someone at a party and the subject of them being in a band comes up, how do they answer the burning question, What do you sound like?
“We try to keep it vague,” Rodgriguez said, sheepishly grinning. “I tell them you have to come see it–then tell us.”
I had just seen then, so I tried out my label:
New classic rock.
Whatever you call them, they hunkered down in Mesa during the pandemic, working on songs for a second album (which they formally released with a December show at the Rebel Lounge) called Paper Tiger.
One online reviewer pretty much agrees with my view, saying UVC “takes a nod from classic rock. With long, grandiose hooks and powerful instrumentals, the band creates a record that so carefully crafts a modern take on such influences…”
After playing a street gig at First Friday, April 1 and the Yucca show two nights later, Ultraviolet Communication has shows April 7 at the Redwood Bar in Flagstaff and April 15 at the Nile, down the street from them in Mesa.
Starting at 6 p.m., the “Spring Kickoff” show at the Nile has a huge lineup:
State of Delusion
Better Than I
Ring Finger No Pinky
Ultraviolet Communication links